Deerfield Valley News: For the love of the job: Ski patrollers put in several years of service

Great article on mount snow patrol in the Deerfield Valley news….(article here or below)

For the love of the job: Ski patrollers put in several years of service
by Christian Avard

DOVER- Last Saturday, the Mount Snow ski patrollers held their annual end of the year banquet at The Lodge at Mount Snow. While they were celebrating the winding down of a ski season, many of them were also celebrating milestones. This year, they honored those who put their time and effort into safe skiing at Mount Snow.

The Mount Snow ski patrol comprises 25 paid staff and 60 volunteers. They work year round covering festivals, bike races, concerts, and other miscellaneous events. Many are paramedics, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, or served in the Armed Forces. The members of the ski patrol go through extensive training on a yearly basis. Training includes simulated accidents and lift evacuations, and lectures by medical professionals. Mount Snow also has a junior ski patrol program that teaches young skiers about skiing safety and community service.

Above all else is their level of experience. Bill Holmes celebrated his 31st year on the ski patrol. Holmes likes the challenges of ski patrolling because it gives him a chance to rise to the occasion and help someone in need. Ski patrolling has changed significantly over the years and Holmes said that today’s patrollers must meet certain qualifications in order to join. “Basically when all of us started, they asked that we have basic first aid training and could ski well. Now we’ve upped the ante and we’re constantly training and doing the scenarios to better our skills,” said Holmes. “When a call comes over the radio and when you leave the building, you have no idea what you’re going to find. It could be as small as a sprain or major trauma such as death, which has happened.”

Jim McDevitt celebrated 41 years as a ski patroller and he believes ski patrollers return every year because of the friendships they make and the memories they share. McDevitt joined the ski patrol in 1969 and has been involved in hundreds of rescues. He said the Mount Snow ski patrol is a talented bunch and “very skilled” at what they do. But aside from the seriousness, McDevitt said the ski patrollers have had their share of wacky moments.

He recalled a time he and a couple of other ski patrollers drove cars up Mount Snow in the dead of winter after a night of celebrating.

They raced up Hot Shot Corner on Deer Run in a brand new Mercedes, a beat-up Volkswagen, with the winner making it to the top in a 1963 Chevy. “We drove right by the old outdoor pool and security. I suspect they didn’t know what we were up to,” said McDevitt.

McDevitt recalled another time when ski patrollers were checking trails and found a dead deer in the middle of a trail. The patrollers took the carcass and stood up on two legs on the side of the Jaws trail. “So when you were coming down the trail and took a turn, you’d see (a deer standing straight up) right in your face. We got in trouble from the manager over that,” laughed McDevitt.

Dick Towsey celebrated 34 years as a ski patroller and acknowledged he was hooked from the beginning. Towsey said it’s “a great life” helping people and he enjoys working with “a great group of people.” Towsey’s daughters, Heather Lund and Cheryl Delaney once served on the ski patrol. His sons-in-law, Kevin Delaney and Lars Lund, are also on the ski patrol. Like Holmes and McDevitt, Towsey shares “a sense of camaraderie” with his fellow ski patrollers and after 34 years, Towsey said he’s always learning something new. “You’re always working with kids. It keeps you young,” laughed Towsey.

Over the years, Towsey said the type of ski injuries has changed. When he first started, Towsey recalls many injuries were broken or sprained ankles. Since ski technology has progressed, most skier injuries take place in the upper body and Towsey says he is seeing more shoulder and wrist injuries and concussions. “They’re much scarier. You can’t see what’s going on and the degree of difficulty to treat increases,” said Towsey.

Jim Saulnier celebrated 40 years on the Mount Snow ski patrol and like the others, he has seen several changes over the years. Like Towsey, Saulnier remembers treating foot, ankle, and leg injuries. He sees more collisions today between skiers and snowboarders. “The biggest drawbacks are snowboarders. They ride too fast and I have no use for them at all. I’ve seen many collisions with skiers that shouldn’t have happened,” said Saulnier.

Saulnier came to Mount Snow with McDevitt in the late 1960s and he believes Mount Snow is in the best shape he’s ever seen. He credits Peak Resorts and their snowmaking efforts for making skiing more enjoyable and safer for everyone.

Holmes believes ski patrollers often go unnoticed for the work they do. He said they are a very versatile group, they enjoy helping people, and the number of years they’ve put in at Mount Snow should be recognized. “It’s nice to get a bone thrown at us once in a while. It’s nice,” said Holmes.

Mount Snow ski patrollers with 20 or more years of service: Charles Ahnell, Ann Bartlett, Brian Beckwith, Rich Caplan, Mark Chapman, John Clark, Sally Grave, Ted Grave, Don Hart, Sindy Hassig, Joel Kent, Dave Leckonby, Robert Leslie, Brian Meaney, Patrick Mooney, Mike Piniewski, and Bill Tsetseranus.

Mount Snow ski patrollers with 30 or more years of service: Peter Bertolami, Steve Cohen, Bill Holmes, Robert Kasparian, Ed Kost, and Dick Tousey.

Mount Snow ski patrollers with 40 or more years of service: Larry Cohen, Greg Ferrone, Richard Kisloski, Jim McDevitt, Jim Saulnier, and Dan Smyers.

Hardcore training for Mount Snow Rescue – Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Training

On Sunday, October 18th, Mount Snow Ski Patrollers as well as other local emergency health care professionals will be participating in a full blow Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Drill.

What does that mean?

On Sunday afternoon, Mount Snow Ski Patrollers, in coordination with local rescue squads (EMS) will be participating in a Mass Casualty Incident Training that would require coordination of of all area ambulance services, the resources of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Hellicopter crews from Albany and Dartmouth, and local bus & shuttle services (the “Moover”). This is an unprecedented exercise for Mount Snow Rescue, and invaluable for our confidence in being as prepared as possible for a catastrophe. This will be fully simulated, patients in moulage, packaged and carried from the hill, transported by ambulance to local hospitals where they will be received by nurses and doctors.  Some of us will be on those rides providing care, some of us as patients.